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Reality check: Dangers of a power arc

PARIS, Ky. (WKYT) - Two firefighters who were hurt during an ice bucket challenge are still in the hospital Monday evening.

Tony Grider and Alex Quinn were airlifted to the University of Louisville Hospital on Thursday.

They were two of four firefighters hurt while helping the Campbellsville University band take part in the ALS awareness challenge.

Investigators say the ladder truck that the firefighters were using got too close to a power line and an electric arc burned them.

"It's almost like an animal: always hunting for a place to go to ground," Aaron Sparkman, a foreman for the Paris Electric Department, says. "If you provide it with a place for it to go it's going to take it."

Sparkman tells WKYT about the dangers of a power arc. He says it doesn't even need to be touched to feel the power.

Firefighters, painters and cable repairmen can feel the power of the arc just by getting too close while working on the high voltage wire.

"An arc when it occurs is when electricity has found nothing to ground and its no longer isolated like it is in the power lines," Sparkman says. "It can go up to 35,000 volts the surface of the sun, it's 10,000 degrees."

The massive amount of electricity is similar to what Campbellsville police say happened on Thursday when two firefighters, inside a fire truck bucket, got too close to the power lines.

To further understand the power of the arc, the electric department has created a demonstration trailer. In the video, a hot dog simulates human flesh and it doesn't take long for the power to burn the outside while it cooks the inside.

Sparkman says everyone should stay at least 10 feet away from the line, especially when working with high voltage.

"Seems like a long distance but depending on the voltage, that could be too close to the power line," Sparkman says.

So, if you're working around electric lines and you think you're in the clear, Sparkman says to think again.

"We want everyone to go home to their families. Everyone's got work to do, it's our job to keep the power on. Also our job to keep everyone safe," Sparkman says.


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